Tens of thousands of unions workers in Costa Rica marched Wednesday after failing to reach an agreement with government representatives following six rounds of dialogue on the fiscal reforms presented by President Carlos Alvarado.
Union workers were joined by environmentalists, who condemned the country's largest tax evaders, stating that several of these companies and individuals are major polluters and recipients of tax concessions funded by cuts to funding for programs for students, Indigenous communities, and agricultural workers.
Protesters marched in the capital of San Jose, from the western side of the city towards the Legislative Assembly (Congress), which is currently debating the Law on Strengthening Public Finance.
“We are going to tell legislators that we will not take one step back. The struggle continues until they withdraw the fiscal package,” a protester told the AFP.
Costa Rica’s unions began an indefinite national strike on Sept. 10 arguing the law will impact the working and middle class rather than focusing on redistribution or increasing the taxes of the wealthiest sectors of the country.
Despite the dialogue, the Costa Rican government has insisted that unions must suspend the strike as a pre-condition for negotiations while refusing to temporarily withdraw the bill in order to negotiate its contents with them.
Union representatives have said this is unacceptable.
Demonstrators have also said 22 buses filled with supporters were stopped by transit officers who argued the protest was not authorized. “The units were not authorized to provide that service,” the transit director German Marin said.
Protesters also organized roadblocks on the country's main highways, one of which leads to the airport. The strike has paralyzed important areas of the public health and education systems.
The government and the unions announced Friday night as the deadline to reach an agreement or suspend dialogue.